The Sacramento Press Club is proud to host a journalism awards contest honoring the best work centered on state politics and policy in California. We are now accepting entries of work published in 2021. The deadline for entries is Feb. 4, 2022.

Journalists around the state can enter the contest, provided their work centers on state politics and policy. While we are a Sacramento-based club, we encourage and hope to see entries from journalists beyond Sacramento. Acceptable entries could, for example, explore the effects of state policy on a city or region, or examine a regional issue that’s drawing attention in the Capitol. 

The entries can span journalistic mediums — text, audio, photo or video — except where noted otherwise. Work completed in any language can be submitted, provided the entrant provides an English-language translation. The exception is for our Spanish-language journalism category, which will be judged by Spanish speakers.

Entries cost $20 for SPC members and $25 for nonmembers. If the entry fee poses a financial hardship, please contact SPC about covering your entry fee at sacpressclub@gmail.com.

The awards will be judged by a panel of retired or former California journalists with experience across a variety of media

We are accepting entries in the following categories.

This award honors the California journalist whose work has had a substantial impact on the state. The Sacramento Press Club board will accept and vote on nominations from independent news organizations or a colleague of the journalist. A nomination letter must detail, with links to published work, why the journalist should be recognized. To qualify, a journalist should have published work that reflects the best of our profession: stories that reveal egregious wrongs committed against powerless populations, that force change in public policy decisions at the state level, or that provide a powerful public service to Californians, including comprehensive coverage during emergencies. This is not a team award, nor will it be given to an institution. It is intended to recognize a singular achievement by a journalist that benefits Californians.

This category recognizes exceptional journalism that holds powerful institutions and/or people accountable for their actions and, by doing so, leads to demonstrable change that benefits Californians. The submission should include a short cover letter explaining the impact or outcome of the work. Judges will consider overall impact, depth of reporting, and the use of today’s technology to reach the audience. Entries may be in any format including text, audio or video. Entries are limited to three stories.

This award will recognize a journalist or team of journalists who displayed exceptional courage to bring necessary coverage to the public, whether by standing up to powerful people, covering events such as wildfires that are inherently dangerous, or exposing themselves to personal harm during the coverage of extremists or others who threaten with intent to injure. A nomination letter must detail, with links to published work, why the journalist(s) should be recognized. The Sacramento Press Club board will accept and vote on nominations from independent news organizations or a colleague of the journalist.

The recall election of Gov. Gavin Newsom challenged political reporters to cover 46 sometimes colorful gubernatorial candidates, disparate policy positions and political theatrics including a 1,000 pound bear. This category recognizes journalism that broke news, influenced the public conversation, and/or provided informed analysis that revealed motivation and context for the recall.  Submissions can be a single story or up to three pieces that demonstrate a command of the subject.

California’s elected officials have enormous influence over the lives of the people they represent. This category is for one specific story that either uncovers news that would not become public or explains to readers the context and import of Capitol decisions. This category recognizes journalism that takes a deeper look at the decisions made in the Capitol, the influences behind them and their effect on the broader public. Judges will be looking for exclusive reporting, a strong writing voice and how the story changed the public conversation or government decisions. A brief explanation of that impact should accompany the entry.

Decisions large and small are made each day in the California Capitol that affect the lives of the state’s 40 million citizens. This category showcases a body of work that shows consistent daily excellence in beat reporting about the Capitol and/or state government. Entries must include five examples of work that demonstrate sharp and clear writing, an important scoop, coverage of breaking Capitol news or continuing coverage of a particular topic, and an ability to explain to readers why the daily workings of the Capitol matters in their lives. Entries can cover a single topic or different issues. Political newsletters are eligible and encouraged.

The California Recall:  The recall election of Gov. Gavin Newsom challenged visual journalists to make images of not just the theatrics but also the serious moments of an election that saw 46 sometimes colorful gubernatorial candidates vying to replace Newsom. Submissions can include up to three news and/or feature images that reflect the campaigns, the candidates and their supporters, or voters.

This award honors exceptional photographic coverage of breaking news tied to state policy and politics. Acceptable entries would include coverage of events at the Capitol as well as those beyond Sacramento. Entries should include up to three photographs of images made during spot coverage that had no advance planning.

California’s elected officials have enormous influence over the lives of the people they represent. This contest recognizes superb still photography that documents such influence or the impact of decisions and politics throughout the state. Entries may include up to three images that are not breaking news but rather pre-planned journalism that provides emotion, insight, or context.

Sometimes television or audio can bring out the idiosyncrasies of a public figure that just can’t be conveyed in print. Similarly, broadcast reporters are often challenged in the moment to keep in-person interviews engaging. This category recognizes exceptional interviews that might illuminate or entertain, hold the powerful to account or feature Californians affected by government decisions. Entries are limited to a single story.

This category recognizes exceptional reporting about political and policy-driven efforts to combat racial injustice. This could include the politics of policing and its community responses and activism, or efforts by lawmakers to stop systemic racism and injustice. Submissions can be a single story or up to three pieces that demonstrate a command of the subject.

The path to safely reopen schools in California raised thorny questions about public health, equity and culture. This category recognizes exceptional coverage of those political and policy education issues, from pre-K to K12 and higher education. Submissions can be a single story or up to three pieces that demonstrate a command of the subject.

This category recognizes exceptional reporting on the politics and public policy surrounding business and labor issues including remote work, the very definition of an employee, Big Tech, real estate, and labor law and enforcement. Submissions can be a single story or up to three pieces that demonstrate a command of the beat.

While COVID-19 dominated healthcare headlines in 2021, quality journalism also emerged on other critical topics including mental health and healthcare access. This category recognizes exceptional reporting on a wide range of public health issues, the government response to those issues and politics surrounding them. Submissions can be a single story or up to three pieces that demonstrate a command of the beat.

Californians felt climate change like never before this year, from wildfires to drought to extreme storms and flooding. This category recognizes exceptional reporting about policy, politics and activism related to water, wildfire, energy, climate change, pollution, endangered species and other environmental topics. Submissions can be a single outstanding story or up to three pieces that demonstrate a command of the beat.

Public polling suggests that housing and homelessness tops the list of issues about which Californians are most concerned. This category recognizes exceptional reporting that explains the causes and effects of the state’s housing crisis and spotlights those it has left behind. Submissions can be a single outstanding story or up to three pieces that demonstrate a command of the beat.

The opinion section provides a public forum to hash out the most (and sometimes the least) important issues facing California. This category recognizes exceptional commentary that changed minds, held the powerful to account or perhaps simply delighted its audience. Submissions can be up to three opinion pieces in any format, including editorials, columns, cartoons and videos.

This award is for a single story or a series of up to three stories that informed California’s Spanish-speaking community about an influential political or policy issue. The story could be text, audio, video or any combination, and would be judged on news value, depth of reporting and relevance to its audience. Entries will be judged by Spanish-speaking journalists.

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